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There are two things that come to mind immediately. If the people who see these plays live in this environment live this way. This is the way they live and talk and everything else. Then you want it formally structured so that they can see it in perspective and enjoy it or what is the point in if they already know. Why don't you why don't these plays you know knowing what your life is and knowing that other people respect it no matter what and they respect the fact that you were alive he would die if you are drunk like she plays in the last play or let him know you have to move this presentation out where you can be seen by the very people you're talking about. Or the very reaction of respect YOU WANT FROM WHAT WHO DO YOU who is a poser is a paki to pull themselves right. Let's now you're showing it in high art right or it has nothing to do with anybody else. It has to do with the fact that we have not had that opportunity. Always been looking to everything else and the hair straighteners and skin Lightener's and fancy clothes and Cadillacs and you name it man every little thing we could
get to kind of. Put some some something into a life that everybody says is forget it you know. And then another point I want to make very quickly here because none of these plays are about any of these things that you are suggesting in terms of a culture a culture being set up as somebody somebody else culture being set up as an example. And you talk about hair straighteners and skin whiteners and all of this. None of this subject matter is represented in any of these plays by the way which is because the plays deal obviously none of it is obviously represented in the plays. But it's there. All of that is there exactly as they are and then you talk about appreciation you see there. What would I have to bring up with you were there levels obviously levels of appreciation by the degrees of appreciation when you say that a person can sit and watch something and so he didn't take a course in how to appreciate Mozart. Well he's going to sit and listen to and he supposed to enjoy it. No he's not going to
enjoy it. He has to have some background but there are degrees of enjoyment. And I would say you take a player like Clara's old man. Yes. It's impossible to enjoy and appreciate that play in the full sense of the of what's happening on stage. Let me reverse it and say it this way. Some members of the audience will get a delicious taste of something immediately just from just from intonation just from a movement whereas another segment let's say of an audience will it'll take them a half hour maybe to come around to it maybe they'll never get it. So what I'm trying to say is that it's very important to know what you're looking at. Otherwise you don't get it. You don't get the full sense of what is there you don't get the full flavor of what is there. So the answer I mean I'm not even looking for an answer. I'm going along with what you
established here that you put in these plays on. And I think you're putting on how and where they will be most appreciated because everybody there for the most part will really know when someone comes into a room and he's walking in a certain way and he looks at somebody sitting at that table and he says. What you mean and I mean it's like it's a whole set up for what's going to come later now if you don't if you don't appreciate that intonation you're not going to get it from there with the truck. All right Jaime Lima. Human beings like animals do know about things they know about things and they know them very strangely. Now we tend not to trust them because we're we're very technological and we have to work things out so you know what you know you know what you know you don't go for that. Well I have a sense and I tell you everybody tells you that you say come on show me the figures you know. I mean but the odds and a little bit different than those kind of spiritual things a little bit different that I would swear you know that
everybody knows but they don't know they couldn't tell you what it was. But in the sense of apprehension I can I bet it that we can I one of the things I said to the actors was the moment that there's a certain point to play where the audience should become mostly silent except for the if there's some black people in the audience who may enjoy it a bit too much. But there's a moment where the people make it very silent when that happens you know you're doing the play right. Because they don't know what's happening but there's a funny sense of something's wrong here. I mean with the you know with all of the elements that are played to put together that the thing to think something is wrong you don't know what it is and you figure you don't like just saying well you don't like the player plays bad or some you don't know what it is. If people were much more able to trust just being with it you know that without having to know the things and I don't have to know
what the guy's about you know the know what those tones are because it's something totally human in those tones that Irish and Jewish and that's all the better not quite the same way but there's something about those kind of things that you can tell no matter what group it is no matter what the ethnic group is and you you know that if you saw a Japanese do it in Japanese. You just watch them with each other know it you know what it is. You don't have to. Maybe maybe you're right and maybe you're not. That's what I think they have because I know several people who are watching this scene in the play. And we're never really aware of the undercurrent of violence that was apparent to come. You see good all right sure is good. But those who did not recognize what was happening immediately.
I'm just suggesting possibly that the intensity of appreciation is Ana is greater just different. I theatrically Yes and dramatically possibly different. I I I wouldn't want to qualify. I wouldn't. And then if I do that the moment that I do that I do acknowledge the fact that then those people that tell me you have mice teach your audience to appreciate the arts are right and I can't for the life of me believe that. I just believe that you know. You just people dig things a little differently because of their exposure is that going to be some people are going to make certain things a little more a little a little quicker a little sampling error than others and sometimes not knowing is the best experience. I wish I didn't know so I could have been surprised I'll buy us a lot of it. You know you have this carrot that you know what it is it all in a different context of a conversation. However we labored the point let's go on to something else the first player's son come home which is the weakest of the three directorial which falls on your shoulders. And
now that the sun come up sun sun come home. Estelle Evans plays the mother in that and this is this is a play that simply traces the emotions the reactions of a soldier that has come back to his hometown apparently and things have changed as mother belongs to Father Divine or I assume that was Father Divine's organization in there or I don't have yours. And and he doesn't the whole thing and it's a flashback technique it's very interesting. But one of the complaints is that it was very confusing as to when the presence was here and when the future was here I saw this about three when at first I just was three or four weeks ago. Have you heard any complaints like that have you done anything to annoy us I have in my computer. Look I. I I. I don't know. Maybe in a
year or so I might try that play again. There are lots of things to do with it. I don't really believe that I was successful with it. Perhaps I should have been. I don't know why I haven't really figured out for myself exactly what to do about it. Now it can be that some writing things can be done about it it can be that some of the ways it's handled in production terms. Well obviously the new I did in terms of production solutions you want to stay away from the obvious solutions of lighting and physical separation or some kind of spatial relation a play is not quite written that way although it seems that way when you watch it it seems like it's written a good deal more flashback e than it actually is that stuff really isn't a flashback it's continuous. You see and it is it's constantly continuous. One of the problems was. To kind of clarify how state is all a part of the same
thing you know a room made up of all kinds of other things that is really not a room really it never really happens they're never really there that the whole plane may just in fact be you know. 15 minutes of the mothers sitting and thinking about something you know and really never have happened at all. This it's very complicated because they do. They never none of the flashback things are ever really done as flashbacks written as you know like even though they seemed to be you know they don't really quite happen in the sense that the flashback makes any sense. There's no particular relationship between a flashback and the present and the present is one. Yeah you know that's a directorial comment your kind of it kind of weaves its way around and. I really didn't quite arrive at the best way of handling that. That whole you know that's an interesting challenge I mean because there's something that it's a real a real problem and once it saw the play could come up I think due to the emotional
level that you want because it's an emotional play. I mean but as I view it it's play. And it's just and it's simple. I mean it's really very simple play while we're talking about those three places when I mention the electron the electronic nigger which is absolutely hilarious. I mean is this no question of about it is just funny as a small get out and the electronic nigger is the coward who simply wants everyone to be electronically oriented even to putting a microphone in a cadaver. An interesting thing because I want to what electronic impulses you would get and it could DeVore who knows and he turns the cadaver loose to some juvenile necrophilia. Yeah that's something you know. But back to the new law didn't tell you you got a grant. Right. Certain amount of money from that Ford Foundation. Well we have we had small grants from several foundations Ford Foundation the Rockefeller Foundation the New York foundation the State Council on the arts. Is this enough
to see you through to getting into theater number one that was last year this year we're dealing again we hope to be helped again by the foundation. We are expecting the Ford Rockefeller Foundation to participate with us again. We are in the process of locating a new place. We think we found the place. We are probably going to have to buy it which is going to make this a regular theatre. No it's not a regular theater movie house. It's was built as a movie theater and it has to be redone up a little bit. So you know we're doing that and we expect to be able to do some of those things we have to raise money both in the community and outside of the community and with missions too because it's a great deal of money involved and trying to do it again this time as one of the problems with having the old place burn down the old place would have done a lot of fun thing you know for very little but now we have to like do it
all over again to the and we can't replace that place and you can't find that kind of a thing and you have to move on. Will you be involved in new plays only or are you going to attempt to do some of the standard repertoire. Well we'll be involved with new put new plays mostly we're considering one of two. One of two possible that we've got good new plays we got a new one I knew three act play by and balance and we've got an adaptation of a novel by Charles Wright. We've got a new play by a young guy from out in Detroit home we can't find and you know I'm serious I'm serious I got great play and this kid from Detroit but we lost track of him. Last summer. You got his manuscript you know this manuscript and letters and we lost track of him and we think he may have been killed or something and I write because it is rumored that he may have been one of the guys that was killed in the woods.
But the plays were written in a pseudonym and he wrote always with a pseudonym. And what happened was that later on a friend of Ed's told him that he knew a guy who was writing under the pseudonym and that this guy was killed in the Detroit riots. And but it would cause loses me I mean we really don't know who the guy was. He doesn't even know who the guy was you know he just knows the guy that you have as he lay it and it would have to play well in the the new law theater now as you move as you continue the operation. Will you will your primary objective simply be to set forth a culture on stage so that it can be appreciated by the audience of that culture. Or will it encompasses other aims other objectives other goals. And just where do you hope to go.
I look at the theatre and you see the way you talk to me just now you talk to me on terms of kind of social things and perhaps even suggesting little political things. And talking about setting forth a culture for the people of that culture. I tend to look at the theatre a great deal more as a spiritual kind of thing. I look at culture a great deal as a kind of a spiritual kind of thing and not really as something that one can manhandle much like architecture and other things like that so that. Will do plays and those plays will sometimes relate to two political things and sometimes they're related to social things. And sometimes they're related to strange religious things sometimes they relate historical things all the time and they will relate to. The existence of black people. Now that is not in any kind of way to separate myself from whites
because I you know have no particular need to separate myself. It's just that I do go I go too. I put myself together with those people whom I seem to have more connection with and more connection to so it's more a positive thing than it is a negative thing like separation and separation. That's right I just I mean let's talk about for a moment about and I still like to get your views on this. About the acting we see around us today and I want I'm asking you because basically on this program I always want to know what the viewpoint of my guests are concerning what they see I mean after all if you see anything or maybe you don't watch anything other than what you are doing but of the acting you see there's a great dissatisfaction. As far as I'm concerned about what we see on stage I can never be comfortable when I go to a stage as I can when I go to a movie because I know the movie is not going to make me work. If it's good it's good. But I have to. I have to worry when I
go to the theater because of the way where the actors are going to speak loud enough so I can hear or I have to worry that they're moving on economically so that it disrupts everything that I'm looking at. And I worry about these things and it isn't going to be any place that can give an actor the collective the total training in his craft. And are you are going to have any kind of a training program connected with the new Lafayette theater for your actors or are you going to bypass that old saw. We we work out together and we will in that sense be training together. I remember when I was with The Living Theatre I was like not really one of the Living Theater people cause I didn't really get along with a living thing. Although I knew there was something very interesting about him that I didn't remain until two or three years later when I began to could see it objectively Did I understand
the value of them was. And one of the values was that no matter what I thought about their acting per se their reasons but doing it always outweighed whatever it was that they don't care how amateurish or how you know downright theatrical quote unquote they might have gotten some of the time. They did it in good spirit and good heart. Seldom did anyone do anything at The Living Theatre to try to make a name or rep for himself because that wasn't quite the place to do it. You know I mean. And there is something very valuable about a person's reason for doing what he does but particularly when it's something like acting. The majority act as you see. You don't see them doing acting for its own sake. You see them doing that piece of acting as a stepping stone to the next piece of acting as a stepping stone to the next piece of acting as a stepping stone to
becoming the new Gregory Peck or somebody who has a neurotic need. You know I don't know if that even but I don't believe that anymore. The all the actors I know and all of the time I spent as an actor are around I don't know if I believe that anymore. I don't know if I believe that the neurotic need does not go any further than. I want to be rich and famous and I want people to see me and know me. Now you may psychologically that may have some kind of thing. I don't know from psychology but what I do feel is that if a person does what he does for the people who are here to do you know where they're doing it with him and the people who are here to witness they're doing it. That you would accept a lot of things a lot of what you might call lack of training. A lot of a lot of things because of the spirit of the people who do it because of their dedication to their doing that not because
of their dedication to their showing you anything. You know how great they can be or how beautiful they are if you're a producer maybe you'll hire me next week when you're going to do your new show as anything but because they are trying to do this thing whatever it is whatever the ceremony or play or whatever the hell they're doing is. And that I think is a like a dividing line. I agree that there are you know lots of actors around who really don't know what they're doing as far as being actors are concerned and I think the major fault is that what they think they're doing and acting is actually only trying to present themselves as actors and has nothing to do with what it is that they're really doing which is doing this play with these people for these people. And that's all you know other things can get into that because the moment something else gets into it it changes the whole thing. It is not the same thing in the exact way and the reverse takes place too. An
actor can get involved in acting when actually what he really wants has nothing to do with the theatre with acting at all. Right and I think in life this happens to individuals whether they go into acting or whether they become I be a machine operator or whatever it is by the way I still haven't have you seen anything on the stage that you've liked recently other than the new Lafayette. It is like this much. Guys I want to say something about that. But then you know I don't I'm not I'm trying not to be too a modest but one of the factors in I doing who's got is only did it. When I chose a girl to do the daughter who had never done a part like that before she'd done some little things in high school and she had been studying with me and with Alan Miller who works with me when we were at Harvard you and also when we moved away from where you are. Now. One of the things that a lot of people particularly theater people.
Said. When they saw the production was the weakest part of production was this girl and it was a thing they didn't understand this special thing about that part. The girl in the play. I don't know whether you saw the play and I didn't. The girl in the play has a lot of anti negro things to say. She is a girl who after having a father who is disappointment and discards she meant. Tragedy in life. Really heard him had a real rough hard father who related that to being black men that's where they are and that's not where I want to be. She rejects them and she has this affair with this with this white boy which she confesses to on the stage. Now the way we did the play the play was done among everybody. It wasn't just done with the mother with his daughter talking to the mother and the son talking to the daughter of the man. It was we talk to everybody everybody had to do it was the ceremony of that kind. And.
The only way we could get away with and have the audience stay with this girl was if they didn't ever believe if they could still trust her if they didn't ever believe that she was too hard Legan to select you know at the moment the gee I did one of those that everybody would turn to right or mark everybody would say that I could if you know I didn't didn't like what you said but it's very good right. They like the girl she ended and all she tried to do was speak for these things she had no acting if I had got an actress there who could have acted up a storm they would have seen through that you know they would have seen that this was a performance and the girl was good enough to do this performance is not innocent enough for us to forgive these things. That's an interesting. Pragmatic concept in terms of how you choose actors
to do what you want to do whether you choose someone who has no acting experience or whether you choose an extremely finely trained actor who can do it much better than the inexperienced but then get right more than you want. One other question before we close Robert Mag. breath and Estelle Evans do you like interviews by the interview you like talking about. Yes I need a time when I rather talk about those kind of things to live people and the problems I've have you know trying to talk to you and I realize we're trying to arrange it so that we talk about things that spread through the radio waves and get to the ears of many people I like to talk to people more. Well let's hope we are talking to people who will be talking to people from all over the states with this program and I want to thank our guests Robert Mike Byrne for the director and actor and overall the founder of the new Lafayette theater and actress stole Evans for joining us on another seminar in
theater. This was seminars in theater. A recorded series of discussions with leading members of the theatrical profession join us again for our next program when host Richard Pyatt will lead another conversation about life in the theater seminars in theatre is produced by radio station WNYC in New York City and is distributed by the national educational radio network.
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Seminars in theatre
Episode Number
Episode 17 of 31
Producing Organization
WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
For series info, see Item 3231. This prog.: Negro Theatre Ensemble. About black theatre and minority theatre. Estelle Evans, actress; Robert Macbeth (or MacBeth), founder, Lafayette Theatre of Harlem.
Media type
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-11-17 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:25:28
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